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牛越神社例祭 人形三番叟 Ushikoshi-jinja-reisai Ningyou-sanba-sou The Sanbaso Dance at the Annual Festival of Ushikoshi Shrine

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The Sanbaso dance dedicated at the annual autumn festival of Ushikoshi Shrine in Ukusu in Nishiizu Town, Shizuoka Prefecture, on November 2 and 3 every year is performed as a Japanese-styled puppet play (Ningyo-Joruri). Sanbaso is a genre of the Kabuki and Ningyo-Joruri dancing, which originated in the Noh play. The doll performance is dedicated to pray for a rich harvest and national peace and stability.

There are several theories about the origin of Ningyo-Joruri performance in this area. One theory states that it was introduced by a nobleman from Kyoto, who was exiled to the Izu province. Another theory states that it was introduced in the early Edo period (1603-1868) by Okubo Nagayasu, who came to this province as Magistrate of Izu Gold Mine. In any case, it is clear from the shrine record that the Sanbaso dance was already performed at this shrine by the local young men during the Tenmei era (1781-1788).

Each of the three dolls, Chitose, Okina and Sanbaso, is operated by three doll handlers. Taking charge of operating different parts of the doll, they handle the doll in a well-balanced manner to the music of Japanese drums, flutes and clappers. The unity created by the dolls and their handlers leads the spectators to the fantastic world.
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佐波神社三番叟 Sawa-jinja Sanba-sou The Sanbaso Dance at Sawa Shrine

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Sawa Shrine in Nishina in Nishiizu Town, Shizuoka Prefecture, is an old shrine, which enshrines the deity of a bumper catch and navigation safety. According to the shrine record, the shrine was endowed with the landownership of shipbuilding village by Emperor Sujin (B.C. 97-30).

The Sanbaso dance dedicated at the annual autumn festival of the shrine held on November 2 and 3 every year is performed as a Japanese-styled puppet play (Ningyo-Joruri). It is said that Ningyo-Joruri performance was introduced to this area during the Keicho era (1596-1614) by Okubo Nagayasu, who was a Sarugaku performer and came to this province as Magistrate of Izu Gold Mine. Ningyo-Joruri was first performed at this shrine in celebration of the large scale refurbishment of the shrine building in 1825. Since then the tradition has been handed down by the local young people.

The dedicated plays are “Hinoiri-Sanba (the Setting-sun Sanba)” on the first night, and “Hinode-Sanba (the Rising-sun Sanba)” on the second night. Each of the three dolls, Chitose, Okina and Sanbaso, is operated by three doll handlers. The troupe, composed of 22 people including drum and flute players and Joruri chanters, performs the Sanbaso dance in accordance with the traditional styles and leads the spectators to the fantastic world.
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延岡五月幟 Nobeoka-gogatsu-nobori Nobeoka Gogatsu Nobori

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Gogatsu Nobori are banners that are put up on “Boy’s Day” - May 5th along with Koinobori, Kabuto helmets and Gogatsu Dolls.  This is done to celebrate the boy and to pray for his success and prosperity in the future.  The custom is still preserved in many local areas, each of which displays its own unique banner.
Nobeoka Gogatsu Nobori are one of this type of banner and they have been produced since the Kan’ei period, nearly 400 years ago.  They are made in the Kyushu region, with a dye technique called Tsutsubiki Tezome which is rarely used in the region.
At first, rough sketches are drawn on high quality cotton fabric and the sketches are then hemmed with rice paste. The painting  is done in an elaborate way, using traditional techniques and 20 different colors.
The motif of the drawings varies from The Genpei War, heroic warriors, Kintaro (from a popular children’s tale) or a venerable sage. On completion, the banners, with their  unique color and tone, are solemn and imposing.  They have been designated as a traditional craft by the Miyazaki Prefecture.
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信松院 Shinshou-in Shinshoin Temple

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Shinshoin Temple located in Dai-machi, Hachioji City, Tokyo is a Soto sect temple worshipping Shakamuni Nyorai. As one of Hachioji Shichifukujin (the Seven Lucky Deities), it also worships Hotei-son.

The temple is deeply related to Matsuhime, a sixth daughter of Takeda Shingen. Matsuhime was born in 1561. At the age of seven, she was engaged to eleven-year-old Oda Nobutada, a son of Oda Nobunaga. But later, when the Takeda clan and the Oda clan got hostile to each other, the engagement was broken off. When the Oda forces invaded into the territory of Takeda clan in 1582, Matsuhime took refuge to Hachioji, where she visited the priest, Tozan Shunetsu at Shingenji Temple and became a nun with a Buddhist name of Shinsho. It is said that Shinshoin Temple originates in a hermitage where the nun Shinsho lived and spent the rest of her life as a Buddhist.

In the precinct is the nun Shinsho’s grave, which is a city’s designated Historic Site.  There are also the wooden model ships used in Hideyoshi’s Korean invasion displayed in the precinct. The temple is thronged with visitors when the ground cherry market is held in July every year.
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無量寿寺 Muryouju-ji Muryojuji Temple

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Yatsuhashizan Muryojuji Temple in Chiryu City, Aichi Prefecture, is a temple of the Myoshinji school of the Rinzai sect. It was founded as the temple named “Ryounji” in 704 but the founder is unknown. In 822, the priest of the Shingon sect, Mitsuen, moved the temple to the present place and renamed it “Muryojuji.” The temple was converted again to the Rinzai sect by the priest Genten in 1670.

Muryojuji Temple is famous for Kakitsubata, or the rabbit-ear iris (Iris laevigata Fisch.), about which Ariwara no Narihira wrote a poem in the Chapter 9 “Yatsuhashi” of his famous “Ise Monogatari (the Tales of Ise).” In 1812, the iris garden was built after the design by Hogan Baisa, a master of the Sencha tea ceremony. This iris garden is now arranged into a famous iris garden named Yatsuhashi Iris Garden, where the city’s biggest event, Iris Festival, is held from the end of April through the middle of May every year. It may be nice to write a poem like Ariwara no Narihira, viewing lovely iris flowers.
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岡崎市 六所神社 Okazaki-shi Rokusho-jinja Rokusho Shrine in Okazaki

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Rokusho Shrine in Okazaki City, Aichi Prefecture, is a historic temple pertaining to the Tokugawa clan. The enshrined main deities are Sarutahiko no Mikoto, Shiotsuchi-no-oji no Mikoto, Kotokatsu-Kunikatsu-Nagisa no Mikoto. The shrine was founded by Tokugawa Ieyasu at the end of the 16th century by transferring the three deities from Rokusho Shrine in Matsudaira county (present-day Toyota City), in which the Matsudaira clan, the ancestry family of the Tokugawa clan, originated. Later, 12 other deities were also transferred to this shrine.

The main hall was constructed by Tokugawa Ieyasu in 1602 and repaired and expanded by the 3rd Shogun Iemitsu and the 4th Shogun Ietsuna. The shrine was worshipped by a lot of people from far and wide during the Edo period (1603-1868) as Ubusunagami (birthplace deities) of the Matsudaira and Tokugawa families. It received a great degree of protection from the Shogunate and only daimyo enfeoffed with more than 50,000 koku of rice were allowed to use the stone steps leading to Romon Gate (the two-story gate).

The colorfully decorated Honden (the main hall), Haiden (oratory), Heiden (the votive offerings hall), Romon Gate and Shingusho (offering preparation hall) are all nationally designated as Important Cultural properties.
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宮崎 大光寺 Miyazaki Daikou-ji Daikoji Temple in Miyazaki

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Daikoji (Sadowara-cho, Miyazaki City, Miyazaki Prefecture) is a temple of the Myoshinji school of the Soto sect. It was founded in 1335 by the Zen priest Gakuo Choho with the patronage of the 4th provincial lord, Tajima Sukefusa. Then in the Edo period (1603-1868), the temple was protected by the domain lords, the Shimazu clan, being enfeoffed with the territory of 75 koku of rice, and reached the height of prosperity.

It was during this period when the renowned Zen monk Kogetsu, who was born in the local village of Sadowara, became the 42nd chief priest of the temple and was actively engaged in missionary work for the local commoners. He is called the restorer of Daikoji Temple.

The statue of Monju Bosatsu sitting atop a roaring lion and guarded by four warriors was carved by a Buddhist sculptor Koshun in 1348. The statue is designated as a national Important Cultural Property. The temple possesses a lot of historic documents collected under the policy of the chief priest Kogetsu. They are now being used as precious data of the history.
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能面 翁 Noumen Okina Okina Noh Mask

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Although Okina Noh mask is one of the most significant masks in Noh plays, it actually existed before the formation of Noh play.
It is thought to originate from Kagura Dance which became popular in Yamato era and was performed by a head of the local clan at an occasion of cerebration. Okina mask was regarded as a mask of a god and considered sacred.
During the Heian and Kamakura periods when Noh was still known Sarugaku-noh, the play performed by Sarugaku troupes was called “Okina Sarugaku”. The play took the shikisanba form in which celebration dances by three Okina characters: Okina, Sanba Sarugaku and Chichii, were performed. This style became the base of today’s Okina Noh play.
Okina mask, also known as Hakushikijou, has a distinctive ancient look that is not seen in other Noh masks. The mask has raggedy eye brows as if balls of cotton were attached, a happy smile with letter “へ” shaped eyes and the detached chin style called Kiriago. This sacred elderly mask is believed to be a god who brings peace, rich harvests, family prosperity and longevity.
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